The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]
This article allegedly appeared in the Times of India recently: >>BAGHDAD: Weapons inspectors from the UN Special >>Commission in Iraq have a serious public relations problem: >>Hardly anyone -- Iraqi or foreigner -- has a kind word for them. >> >>That the Iraqis have problems with UNSCOM staff >>is well known. But employees of other UN agencies >>here are equally critical of them. >> >>"They roam around like cowboys, as if they own >>the place", said one observer for the UN's >>'Oil-for-food' programme in northern Iraq. "They >>are uncouth and rude". Another told The Times of >>India: "They have no respect for the culture and >>sensitivity of the people and are deliberately >>provocative." >> >>Diplomats in Baghdad say the Australian head of >>UNSCOM, Richard Butler, is partly to blame. One >>ambassador said he was too brusque. It is true >>his solecisms tend to offend. After he told The >>New York Times that he came from a "Western >>tradition" where "truth-telling was important" >>and that it was "frustrating" to deal with >>others where this wasn't the case, the UN >>Secretary General ticked him off. >> >>Another ambassador sees a method in his manner, >>describing Butler as "a self-perpetuating >>bureaucrat shoe-horned from obscurity to the >>centre of the world's attention. He is not going >>to be in a hurry to give up his job". >> >>Since the UN has a dual role in Iraq -- >>humanitarian assistance and sanctions enforcement >>-- it is not surprising the two aspects have led >>to tension within. >> >>The UNSCOM people see the humanitarian workers as >>softies keen for sanctions to be eased. They call >>them "bunny-huggers". The latter, in turn, refer >>to UNSCOM as 'UN-SCUM.' Many feel the inspectors >>are deliberately dragging their feet to suit those >>countries which want sanctions against Iraq >>to continue. >> >>One 'bunny-hugger' from an Asian country said: >>"I once saw an UNSCOM guy with a US flag stuck >>on his radio. Normally my colleagues avoid them >>but I told him he had no right to wear his flag >>since he was on UN duty and he just brushed past >>me. I thought, God, if these guys are like this >>with us, how must they be treating the Iragis?" >> >>A UN relief worker from a European country >>provided details. "There have been many >>instances where they turn up at warehouses on a >>Friday knowing it is a holiday," he said. "They >>then demand to be let in but since the guard >>doesn't have the keys and they don't wait for the >>storekeeper to be contacted, they break the >>padlock, search the place and go away, leaving >>the poor guard to figure out how to lock up the >>place again." >> >>Often, they will arrive at a site and demand >>immediate access. But since the person in-charge >>naturally would like the clearance of his >>superiors, he asks them to wait, at which point, >>the UNSCOM experts return to their headquarters >>and complain of non-compliance. >> >>And then there is the infamous incident at the >>Mar Yousif and Saydat Al-Sinabul monasteries in >>Zafaraniya in June 1997, which inspectors >>desecrated. The Papal Nuncio formally protested >>and UNSCOM was forced to apologise. There have >>also been searches of kindergartens and >>university offices. Sometimes, the latter have >>had their records taken away to help identify >>potential chemical weapon experts. >> >>On one occasion -- captured on film -- an UNSCOM >>inspector demanded access to a farm. When the Iraqi >>official accompanying him said it was private and >>asked "How would you like it if I demanded to >>enter your house", the UNSCOM man jabbed a >>finger in his chest and bellowed in a thick >>American accent: "YOU would never enter my >>home." >> >>"The Iraqis feel really humiliated," said one >>UN employee, "but their endless patience and >>courtesy never fails to impress me and my >>colleagues." She said that if anyone tried to >>conduct similar searches in her country, "there >>would be riots in the streets". >> >>The problem with UNSCOM, another woman said, is >>that it is heavily staffed by nationals of >>countries which fought the Gulf War. The fact >>that most are soldiers doesn't help. "The UN >>always had a rule of not sending non-neutral >>people into any area. In the case of Iraq, this >>rule has been broken. It's like sending Israelis >>to Lebanon or Pakistanis to the Kashmir border." >> >>* * * -- ----------------------------------------------------------------------------- This is a discussion list run by Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq. To be removed/added, email firstname.lastname@example.org, NOT the whole list. Archived at http://linux.clare.cam.ac.uk/~saw27/casi/discuss.html